Living in a house share with roommates certainly has its benefits – maybe you love living with others or perhaps it’s the best option for you currently, either way sharing the living costs with a roommate is an ideal way to save money.
So, you can take the stress out of your living situation using these seven tips, which will ensure you and your roommate have a positive financial relationship throughout your tenancy (although, sorry but these tips won’t help you figure out who’s turn it is to do this washing up – that one’s up to you!)
Assess Your Friendship
The first thing you’re going to need to do is evaluate your current friendship. Is your friend financially stable? Do they usually pay their bills on time? Or, do they tend to blow their entire paycheck in a day or two? It’s important to assess these things before getting financially involved as money can easily make or break a friendship.
If you’re new to a flatshare – it’s always good to get to know your fellow roommates before diving right into sharing living costs – I mean, you don’t want to end up having to fork out for everything under the promise of “I’ll pay you back next week” (or more likely never).
Decide Which Bills You’ll Share
Before you begin splitting the monthly outgoings, it’s worth deciding which bills you would like to share and how you’re going to arrange them.
It makes sense to split the rent and utility bills – like gas, water, electric and broadband but it might be worth considering splitting the cost of groceries too – especially where you can get discounts for buying larger quantities.
However, when it comes to grocery shopping you will need to assess what your friend tends to purchase and eat. For example, if you’re more of a supermarket basics type, whilst your roommate tends to purchase the best quality produce in the whole of the UK, then you’ll end up forking out for food that isn’t your cup of tea.
One way to combat this is to split what you both agree are monthly necessities such as:
- Cleaning supplies,
- Household expenses (batteries, lightbulbs, and DIY equipment),
- Hygiene products including (toilet paper, hand soap, and shampoo and conditioner – if you feel comfortable sharing these)
Organisation is Key
A major piece of the puzzle to successfully sharing expenses is to stay organised. As a team, you will need to go through each expense, figure out when and how the bills will be paid, and then split it equally each month.
This may seem like an obvious task but it happens all too often that roommates wait until the last minute to send over their share of the bills resulting in stress and frustration – and possibly a late payment, which doesn’t benefit anybody, especially the bill payer.
One way you can stay organised is by creating a cost spreadsheet which will set out the guidelines and rules for each roommate. Outline what the bill is, how much each person owes and when they need to send the money over. As a group, you should revisit the spreadsheet every month or so to adjust it for any new joint payments or activities.
Consider Who’s Name the Bills are in
If the bills are in your name, ensure you don’t make any payments until everyone has given you their share. Whilst you may trust your roommates will pay you back, it’s unfair on you to keep paying for these expenses time and time again.
In this situation, send your roommate’s a gentle reminder that the rent is due in a week. Try to avoid being bossy, even if a push in the right direction may be needed for some members of your shared household.
If your roommate is in charge of making payments, set up a standing order to leave your account a few days before it’s due so they can feel confident that you’re on top of things financially and avoid any awkward conversations (or arguments).
You Should Talk About Future Visitors
Most roommates are more than happy to let your friends crash for a couple of days – but if your partner is staying over 5+ nights a week, then they really should be contributing to your living expenses, especially if they’re eating food, taking long showers, and making use of the electric. This is not cool or okay.
At the start of your lease, agree upon a “guest policy” which is equal and fair for all roommates and visitors. It’s not unfair to ask visitors to contribute to utility bills if they’re staying over regularly. The key is for you all to stick to your policy to unnecessary drama.
Manage Payments Using Fintech (Financial Technology)
Looking for a way to help manage your shared monthly expenses? Well, there’s an app for that.
Free apps like SplitWise, Snoop and Tricount can help you to divide payments equally so everyone knows exactly where they stand.
Using fintech technology to keep track of money helps you to avoid disputes and confusion each time the bills are due and will remove the whole “who owes who” dilemma.
Don’t Split Every Purchase BUT Do Plan for Unexpected Costs
There are some purchases which you will need to keep separate. Furniture is a perfect example of this. At the time, it may seem like a great idea to go halves on a new sofa or invest in a brand new TV, but you need to consider what will happen when it’s time to move out.- Who will get the sofa? Will one of you pay the other back? Is a new roommate moving in who should pay you? hmm…
Things can get complicated. So, it’s best to keep those big-ticket items separate so there are no complications down the line.
Speaking of complications, it could be worth everyone contributing to a shared emergency fund to cover any unexpected repairs or expenses that you may face throughout your tenancy. Although, if you’re responsible for the damage – it should be you that pays, so having some money tucked away “just in case” is ideal.
Communication, Communication & More Communication
It’s a big commitment when sharing living expenses with your roommates. It takes trust, time and sometimes it can be a real test of character. Don’t fall into the cycle of covering bills for your flatmates if they have a habit of never paying you back and remember if a flatmate does forget to send you their share of the rent, a gentle reminder will go a long way, rather than a passive-aggressive approach.
However, you should be able to prevent this from happening by keeping the channels of communication open with your roommates and remembering to revisit your expenses on a monthly basis, it will allow you all to live happily ever after (or until one of you moves out).